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HomeOpinionAll roads paved for kleptocrats

All roads paved for kleptocrats

Reforming government institutions and holding public officials accountable for their actions are also important measures in tackling corruption. By ensuring that everyone is following the same set of rules and that there is a system in place to investigate and punish those who break the law, it becomes more difficult for individuals to engage in corrupt practices

There is rampant corruption in Pakistan and Malaysia. Both sentenced former premiers Nawaz Sharif and Najeeb. Sharif fled from the country during Imran Khan’s tenure while Najeeb was prisoned when Mahatir came to power. Consequently, the Pakistani anti-graft system is almost repealed while Malaysia reined in the corrupt practices.

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue that “man, not nature, sows the seeds of his own destruction through political and economic institutions”. They cite examples of both Koreas. One is plagued with corruption and poverty while the other is advanced with innovation and skills.

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Many developing countries are plagued by widespread corruption in their political systems. This often means that politicians and government officials enrich themselves at the expense of the public, through bribes, kickbacks and other corrupt practices.

In some countries, such as Haiti, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, corruption is so rampant that it has become almost synonymous with politics. The leaders of these countries are often referred to as “kleptocrats” or “thieves in power”. They use their positions to amass wealth and power for themselves and their families, while the rest of the population suffers from poverty and lack of basic services.

There are many initiatives underway to try to address corruption in developing countries. The United Nations has formed a global coalition called “United Against Corruption”, which aims to raise awareness about the issue and promote reform. The World Bank also runs programs to help countries develop anti-corruption measures.

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Likewise, in the international canvas some scams like the Petrobras scandal, Offshore Leaks, Luxleaks, Swiss Leaks, and Panama Papers appeared. Some of the Pakistani political gurus were also echoed in these. Some countries, such as Italy and South Africa, have punished corrupt politicians by imprisoning them. Other countries, such as Malaysia and Peru, have banned some of them from holding public office.

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison for corruption, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in prison. Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached, ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country amid widespread protests over his corrupt rule.

In Singapore, a city-state in Southeast Asia, the government has developed a number of technological solutions to discourage and punish corrupt politicians.

Pakistan ranked 140 out of 180 countries, by Transparency International on the corruption index had 2022 a bleak year, with rampant corruption continuing to erode the country’s social and economic fabric. The government instead of bringing transparency has failed to make significant progress in fighting corruption, resulting in massive losses for the national economy. Pakistan has also observed 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day.

The year saw several high-profile corruption scandals, including those who had the highest positions in the power corridors.  Former President and co-chairman of PPP Asif Ali Zardari and his family, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family were on the rudder of the National Accountability Bureau but after regime change, all the dust settled.

Some of the most notable corruption cases in Pakistan include the Asghar Khan case, the Mehran Bank case, and the Hudaibiya Paper Mills and many others. The Pakistan Steel Mills case, the rental power projects case, IPPs, the Karachi port corruption case, and the Hajj scam. The Nandipur Power Plant Scandal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi LNG case also made headlines.

In past, the NAB arrested Shahbaz Sharif in Ashiana, ex-president Zardari was named in fake bank accounts and money laundering cases, Bahria Town, DHA and CDA also appear on NAB’s radar, PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi was imprisoned for life in ephedrine case, Khawaja brothers held in Paragon Housing Society scam, the case against generals who on transferring 140 acres of prime railway land in Lahore for Royal Palms Golf and Country Club that caused Rs2.16 billion loss to the national exchequer, Sharjeel Memon over ‘honey, oil’, Yousuf Raza Gillani was indicted in multi-billion dollar Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) corruption case. Former state-run TV head Ataul Haq Qasmi, a journalist, was also punished for minting money by the apex court, and many more. Unfortunately, the fate of these is an open secret.

But, NRO 1 and 2 have become hallmarks in the anti-corruption history of Pakistan. The first was a gift from dictator Gen Musharraf while the later, as many blame, from the parliament as PTI chief Imran Khan alleges after the regime change.

As a result, public confidence in the government continued to decline, and Pakistan saw another year of economic stagnation and rising inequality. Pakistan’s accountability system has long been plagued by political interference and judicial paralysis, leading to a lack of convictions for high-profile corruption cases.

Former PM Imran Khan couldn’t eliminate corruption despite his party vowed to bring all the powerful corrupt elite to accountability. He confessed that the NAB was not under him.

Reforming government institutions and holding public officials accountable for their actions are also important measures in tackling corruption. By ensuring that everyone is following the same set of rules and that there is a system in place to investigate and punish those who break the law, it becomes more difficult for individuals to engage in corrupt practices.

In the early 21st century, many advanced countries have turned to technology-based solutions to convict the corrupt political and business elite. For example, in Spain, a program called “Púnica” was developed to track suspect financial transactions. This program used software to analyze large data sets in order to find links between the corrupt and organized crime. In addition, in Italy, a program called “Mafia Capitale” was developed to track the financial transactions of Mafia members. This program used data mining techniques to identify suspicious patterns in financial data. As a result, many corrupt politicians and officers have been convicted using these technology-based methods. Pakistan also needs to switch to such technologies to combat funds-related crimes like money laundering etc.

Acemoglu and Robinson on reasons for nations fall apart say a tilted playing field, elites blocking new technologies, a weak central government, and the elite had simply replaced another in what German sociologist Robert Michels called the “iron law of oligarchy” are some of the common factors that plague the developing nations Pakistan is no exception.

Summing up the economic collapse and political mess was a result of what we sowed in form of corrupting political and regulatory institutions. Many believe that through education, reforms, morality and accountability initiatives, it is possible to lessen the prevalence of graft in society. The World Bank may also fund to introduce of forensic tech to curb the milking of money. Experts say without introducing forensic technology as evidence it would be hard to prosecute and punish the white-collar criminals who are set free exploiting the judicial shortcomings.

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